Archive | Homeware RSS feed for this section

Clock this baragin!

31 Aug

Copper clock £4.99 B&M Stores (boxed)

A few weeks ago, I visited one of the country’s biggest B&M stores and wrote about it for the Daily Mail (you can read it here).

I confess, I’d never been to either a B&M Home (huge warehouse-like stores selling thousands of products) or a B&M Bargains (the smaller high street version) before. And I LOVED it! It’s a bargain-hunter’s paradise. You really can buy anything there, from food to furniture – and it’s all an absolute steal.

What I really liked though was the homewares section. Yes, there were the cushions, kitchenware and picture frames you might find in any high street shop, but there were also some brilliant designer-look bits at frankly criminal prices. Think mirrors with straps, copper cutlery, wire storage baskets and several amazing clocks. My favourite was this cool wall clock, above (available with either numerals or lines on the face). Not only does it nail this season’s copper trend, but it costs just £4.99. Yep, a fiver. Unbelievable!

Here’s the numeral version next to an almost identical Karlsson one, which costs £68 from Idyll Home; and an Acctim one, £40, from Debenhams. Can you spot the difference? Tricky, isn’t it?!

bmstores-301329-Copper-Wall-Clock-2 £4.99From L to R: Copper clock £4.99 B&M; Karlsson copper clock £68 Idyllhome.co.uk; Acctim copper clock £40 Debenhams

So, if you haven’t already paid a vist to a B&M Store, I think it’s, ahem, time, you made a special trip! Race you to the tills…

 

The Friday Find: Cactus makes perfect

22 Jul

Cactus storage jars Howkapow

I’ve mentioned before (here) that I’m a huge cacti fan, so I’m glad to see they’re sticking around interiors-wise. And the latest cactus-shaped items to catch my eye are these quite frankly awesome glossy ceramic cactus pots, from Howkapow.com.

Designed and made in Amsterdam, and complete with hand-painted prickles(!), they’re ideal for storing jewellery, cookies, stationery… you name it, you can pop it inside.

The small (17cm tall) version is £12.95, the medium (19cm tall) version is £18.95 and the large (23cm tall) version is £24.95.

Available to buy now, if you want one, I’d look sharp if I were you, as they’re bound to be a succulent – sorry – success!

Medium Cactus Jar £18.95 Howkapow.com

The Friday Find: Throws of passion

6 May

I spot so many amazing things on my window shopping expeditions and in my day job is as a lifestyle journalist, that I’ve decided to start sharing them with you regularly. From great gifts to beautiful bits for your home, I’ll post up my finds on Fridays, so you can think about treating yourself at the weekend…

1865625642_large

Last week saw the sad news that the department store BHS (www.bhs.co.uk) is in administration and likely to vanish from our high streets forever. The homeware and lighting departments have some great stuff, and it’ll be a shame to see it go.

So, this week’s first ever Friday Find has to be from BHS. I popped in there at the weekend to check out the discount event currently taking place… and fell in love with this ‘Purple multi coloured woven throw’.

The original price was £30, but it’s now been reduced to £24, and the pix don’t really do it justice – the zingy colours and chunky knit wool make it look a zillion times more expensive:

1865625642_2_large

It’s a decent 157cm x 152cm and would look great in any room in the house – or even outside to keep you snug while enjoying a cheeky evening drink or two in the garden.

1865625642_4_large

Thinking a-head

23 Nov

POSS OPENER PIC ceramic animal wall vases £35 Graham and Green (this is low res - high res is available if needed)

Vases are a great gift when you’re unsure what to get someone. After all, everyone needs them, and you can never have too many.

But if you’re giving someone a vase this Christmas, why not make it a bit special. Say, a vase in the shape of a polar bear or koala’s head?

These ceramic vases aren’t particularly cheap at £35 each (from Graham & Green), but they are AMAZING. Plus, you can almost guarantee the recipient won’t already have anything like one already.

Polar Bear Wall Vase  £27.99 OakRoomShop.co.uk  (with roses)

Depending on the design, they’re 15-19cm high and 12-20cm wide, making them a fairly decent size. What’s more, they’re actually really versatile. Yes, you can use them for flowers or foliage; but they also work well for bulbs; or as a quirky pen or pencil holder; or somewhere to store your makeup brushes…

In fact the only problem with them that I can see is that you’ll have problems deciding which friendly little fella to go for!

Cutting it fine

20 Oct

Midas 16 Piece Cutlery Set £20 George Home

Silver coloured knives and forks are so 2014 (apparently). This winter, the most stylish tables across the land will be laid up with gold or copper cutlery instead.

But you don’t have to, erm, fork out millions for it. Previously only available in the chicest of boutiques for eyewatering prices, the high street has caught onto the trend and made it far more purse-friendly. For example, the ‘Midas’ cutlery at the top of this page is a bargainous £20 for a 16-piece set from George at ASDA; while the lovely copper effect set below is £32 for 16 pieces from Next:

Copper effect cutlery £32 Next

This  ‘Glamour’ gold set from Argos is £34.99 for a generous 24 pieces:

UC1042129#

Or, if you want to go a wee bit more upmarket, this weighty gold ‘Liberty’ set with tactile rounded handles is £75 (for 16 pieces) from Marks & Spencer:

16 Piece Liberty Cutlery Set £75 Marks and Spencer

A prickly subject

14 Oct

cactus-vase-small-serax-5

It’s never too early to start thinking about Christmas in my book. And top of my list for Santa this year? One of these A-MAZING cactus vases.

In gorgeous green glazed porcelain by artist Marie Michielssen, they look fantastic on their own or grouped together, and personally I don’t think you need to put flowers in them.

The smallest size costs £16.95; the medium is £34.95 and the large is £54.95 (I know, I know, not cheap – but they are things of beauty) from one of my favourite online stores, Howkapow. They’re also available – for slightly higher price tags – at the Conran Shop, Trouva and Notonthehighstreet.

cactus-vase-large-serax

They’d make a fantastic gift, so go on, grab yours while they’re still in stock. I predict a, ahem, spike in sales as soon as Christmas shopping season starts officially…

cactus-vases

Shop back in time

4 Sep

il_570xN.752786438_t0io

In my day job as a journalist, I get to meet some really lovely, interesting, talented people. One such person I’ve had the honour of getting to know is Carla, who, until recently, worked in the press office for a big high street department store.

unnamed (5)

Carla has amazing style, a magpie’s eye and a canny knack for spotting a bargain. She’s also obsessed with the 1950s, and now her love of all things retro has led to her branching out and setting up her own online business, Carla Collects, selling brilliant mid-century finds – my favourite era – at refreshingly reasonable prices.

In her etsy shop (at https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/CarlaCollects) you’ll find everything from true vintage to kitsch, including jewellery, fashion, decorative bits, ornaments, kitchenalia, toys, and haberdashery – you name it, she’s probably got it. And if she hasn’t, she’ll happily seek it out for you if you put in a request.

il_570xN.747101282_o8pe

What’s more, she also upcycles furniture and makes soft furnishings such as cushions and chair covers too. Phew!

So, whether you’re looking for a vintage tea set to give as a wedding present; an outfit-transforming retro necklace; or a 1960s teapot shaped like an owl (you never know!), I’d recommend taking a look. To give you a taster, here are some of my favourite pieces on sale at the moment. Everything here ranges in price from £6 to around £22 and is a one-off, so if you spot something you like, you’d better be quick!

il_570xN.738356314_rij5 - Copy

il_570xN.742698046_62xm - Copy

il_570xN.738312536_7vhb - Copy

il_570xN.762953487_t6is

il_570xN.752524710_clku

il_570xN.805158839_nheq

PS: Bought something from the lovely Carla? I’d love to see it! Tweet me your finds @WoodyJen

Hot stuff

19 Aug

photo (99)

Sometimes it’s the smallest things that make the biggest difference. When I make toast, I like to grab the slice out of the toaster as quickly as humanly possible, so that the butter goes all melty when I spread it on top. However, this impatience usually means I end up burning my fingertips, flinging molten-hot toast around the room, and swearing a lot.

So, I am totally OBSESSED with my new Pebbly toaster tongs. Made from flexible (and environmentally-friendly) bamboo, they’re perfectly thin and long enough to get even the trickiest slice of toast, piece of bagel, English muffin or pancake out of your toaster easily and without sustaining third-degree burns – or damaging the metal element inside the toaster.

What’s more, they have a magnet cunningly built into the brightly-painted handle, so you can stick them on the side of your toaster when you’re not using them. So simple, yet so clever. Seriously, at just £4.99 from Amazon.co.uk (or £5.50 from Divertimenti.co.uk), you’ll wonder how you lived without them!

unnamed (3)

Nice ice, baby

27 Jul

George Home Lolly Digital Cushion £7 George at Asda Stockist 0800 952 3003

Mmmn ice cream! Now, not only can you stuff your face with it, but you can decorate your home with it too! I’m more than a little bit in love with this tasty cushion from George Home (George.com) – and at just £7, it doesn’t cost much, ahem, lolly either!

And it seems ice cream and ice lollies are a bit of a mini trend right now. I’m also rather fond of this slightly more expensive Margate cushion, £38.50 by Home Slice at Notonthehighstreet.com

Margate Cushion by Home Slice Design £38.50 Notonthehighstreet.com

…and these fun accessories too. From left to right:  Cornet ice cream bean bag by Woouf £147 at Cuckooland.com; Newgate Ice Cream Cone Wall Clock £35 Red Candy; and Ice Cream Door Stop £8.99 Gettingpersonal.co.uk

Untitled

…Finally, if you’re having a summer party, how cute would these honeycomb ice cream decorations (£4.99 for three, from Candleandcake.co.uk) look hung in groups around your garden?

Ice Cream Honeycomb Decorations £4.99 for three candleandcake.co.uk

Kitsch’n’chic

22 Jul

George Home SS15 bright retro kitchen farm fresh range

People can be a bit snooty about shopping for homeware in supermarkets, but quite frankly, they’re missing out. George Home at Asda (and at George.com) in particular has some brilliant accessories at the moment that are bright, quirky and absolutely BARGAINOUS.

I’m particularly excited by their Farm Fresh kitchen range (in the photo above). With retro styling, eye-popping colours and purse-friendly price tags, you could go wild in the aisles and still have plenty of change left for your weekly food shop.

My personal favourites? The cockerel tray £5, Rise & Shine mugs £5 for a set of four, Polka dot cake tins £7 for three and the wooden utensils £2 for three:

5054070515785

Also worth popping in your trolley is the Jones Lemonade bottle clock £12 (looks designer but is waaaaay cheaper), and the Milkshake tea towel £2:

5060156528303

Anything flamin-goes!

17 Jun

LIFESTYLE SHOT 4 Domingo the Fabulous Flamingo artificial bird £49 Rockett St George

Above: Domingo the Fabulous Flamingo ornament, £49, Rockett St George

Last year, it was all about owls. But this summer, the birdie to watch is definitely the flamingo. Quirky, fun and unashamedly pink, flamingo-themed homewares are, ahem, flying out of stores. 

You don’t need to go overboard – just a set of fairy lights here or a cushion there will bring your room bang up to date and make you think of summer.

Here’s my pick of the best flamingo products to feather your nest with…

Below: Garden flamingos £30 per pair The Contemporary Home; Sommarfint glass 50p Ikea; Embroidered cushion £8 Tesco Direct

flamingos 1

Below: Shower curtain £15 Habitat; Lampshade £44.52 (various sizes and matching accessories available) Georgia Wilkinson; party lights £14.95 Dotcomgiftshop.com

flamingos2

Below: Flamingo duvet set £25 (and all other accessories) Very.co.uk

LIFESTYLE SHOT 2 Flamingo double duveet set £25 and all other products , Fusion range at Very.co.uk

Copper load of this!

30 Mar

Dunelm Cleo Copper Pendant -ú19.99

From high end stores to the high street, copper accessories are EVERYWHERE right now.

H&M Home, Habitat and Sainsbury’s have all got some lovely pieces, but my favourite find of the moment is this Cleo pendant shade from Dunelm (buy it here), with its designer looks and bargain £19.99 price tag.

It’d look particularly good in a hallway, letting maximum light shine through, and casting cool geometric patterns on the walls. And if you’re feeling really flash, why not make a feature of the lightbulb too and fit this fab Retro Bayonet Faceted Light Brown Bulb, £4.99, also from Dunelm (buy it here)?

1000056075_main

Turn over a new leaf in the bedroom

26 Mar

TREND Botanical - Marks and Spencer

All products in the above shot are from Marks and Spencer

The botanical look is huge news this Spring – gorgeous greens, fabulous fern, leaf and flower prints, lots of lovely natural wood and a splash of this season’s must-have metal, copper.

Marks & Spencer have nailed the trend with their showstopping Eve bedlinen (seen on the bed above, from £19.50). In grown-up green and black, it’ll make any bedroom look classy and is totally unisex.

Want to try the look above yourself? Here are my top tips:

  • Take your inspiration from nature with fern, leaf, flower, butterfly and insect prints on bedding and cushions. Try (L to R) the Butterfly cushion £7 George Home at Asda; the Butterfly cushion £19.50 Marks & Spencer; or the Spring Butterfly Green cushion £6 Matalan:

butterfly cushions

  • Black bedrooms aren’t just for teenagers. Create drama with a decadent feature wall painted in matte black paint. Just keep the walls, ceilings and curtains white, unless you like having a room so dark you bump into things in the night!
  • Bring the outside in and use plants like accessories. Dot them around the room, in pots on the floor and from the ceiling in hanging planters, like this bargainous Riskorn planter £6, from Ikea:

Colourcheck No Info: Jenny Söderström 

  • Go for pale, unpainted wood furniture to keep things looking as natural as possible. It’ll also help offset the dark walls and bedding. I like the copper details on this Range side table, £149 from Made.com:

Oak and Copper Range Side Table Oak Copper £149 Made.com

  • Create quirky wall art with artificial succulent plants. Glueing them in place would mean a replaster job when they came down, so attach a stick-on an adhesive disc plate-hanger (£1.64, Amazon.co.uk) to the back of each pot, and hang them from picture hooks or nails instead. These ones are £2.99 each from Dunelm:

Green Succulent Plant In Ceramic Pot £2.99 each Dunelm

  • A desk lamp is the perfect alternative to a traditional table lamp as it allows you to direct light where you need it most. Choose one with copper details – one of this season’s hottest trends; it looks great with black and green. I like this wood effect desk lamp, £20 from George Home at Asda:
  • Wood Effect Desk Lamp £20 George Home at AsdaChoose a lampshade in a natural material such as wood, raffia or wicker. The gaps in the shade will create a lovely dappled, forest-like effect when the light is switched on. Try the Mandy shade, £18, B&Q:

Lights By B&Q Mandy Bamboo with Inner Diffuser Light Shade £18 B&Q

Doggy style!

11 Feb

Billie butter dish £15 Cath Kidston

Love or hate Cath Kidston, I defy anyone not to have a soft spot for her new ceramic range. There’s not a flowery pattern in sight – just good quality white china with a cute little white terrier called Billie sitting on top. I’m particularly in love with the butter dish, £15, above; but he also sits proudly on a single tier cake stand (£25) and two sizes of storage jar (starting at £15 for the medium, below):

Billie cake stand £25 Cath Kidston

And while we’re at it, I also have a LOT of time for Cath Kidston’s Cranham range, printed with a bright-coloured ric rac pattern. I’m obsessed with the milk jug, £8, below; and there’s a matching sugar bowl, £7; plus a rectangular plate, mug/saucer, egg cup and cake stand too. Yum!

Cranham milk jug £8.50 Cath Kidston

Retro fabulous

6 Feb

Tesco SS15_052

Tesco Direct have been coming up with some fantastic homewares of late (see my bedroom makeover post from October here) but this season they’ve really outdone themselves. Their new Mid Century range combines two of my favourite things – bright colours and retro style – in one amazing new collection.

And what’s more, because it’s from Tesco, it’s absolutely bargainous!

Stand-out pieces include this designer-look Retro teapot, £10; set of espresso mugs with saucers, £12 for four; and matching sugar bowl and jug, £4 each…

Tesco Miami Coffee Table £79, Espresso Mugs and Saucers £12, Retro Teapot £10, Retro Milk Jug £4, Retro Sugar Pot £4

…the covetable geometric and bird cushions, £8-12 each, plus the Miami occasional table in sulphur yellow, just £29 (the matching white coffee table is £79)…

Tesco Direct Julianne Loveseat Felt Effect Pepple £399, Miami Occasional Table Sulphur Yellow £29, Pasadena Ceramic
…the tweet – sorry, sweet – set of bird cake tins, £10 for two…

Tesco Retro Bird Baking Tins 2 for £10…and the tactile red Palermo stacking chairs, £49 each; matching Palermo dining table (a steal at £149); and cheery yellow Thorpness pendant light £29:

Tesco Direct Palermo Dining Table £149, Palermo Stacking Chair £49, Thorpness Large Metal Electric Pendant £29

It’s all available online at www.tesco.com/direct and instore from now onwards. See you at the checkout!

 

 

Let it glow

3 Feb

 

Get-Lucky

I’ve been hankering after a large circus marquee style wall light for a while, and once our loft conversion was complete, I had the perfect blank wall at the top of the stairs to hang one on. Thing is, these kinds of lights are usually so darn EXPENSIVE.

So, I was chuffed to discover the range of bargainous oversized vintage lights at chic online homes boutique Oliver Hayden. There are five designs to choose from, including a question mark, a ‘Get Lucky’ arrow, a ‘Sweet heart’ heart and a tattoo-style star, plus a smaller ‘Love’ heart:

Large-Star-300x270

At £45 for the large versions and £25 for the small, they’ll make a statement without breaking the bank; plus unlike other more costly designs which need to be plugged in with an unsightly cable, these use batteries and have a discreet switch at the side, meaning you can hang them anywhere.

Mr Treasure Hunter and I treated ourselves to the Get Lucky arrow light, which now hangs – slightly cheekily, as my mum has pointed out – just outside our new loft bedroom:

photo (93)What I particularly like about it is that it looks cool whether it’s lit or not, and whether it’s day or night.

Fancy one of your own? They’re in stock now (buy the arrow light here) but do keep selling out. I’m assured Oliver Hayden re-stock regularly, but still, better get your name down pronto!

 

 

Putting on the glitz

28 Nov

sequin cushions pillows

It’s almost December, so I’m going to get the ball rolling and start talking about Christmas. Every year, the shops are flooded with special ‘Christmas’ cushions – usually in red with festive slogans on – that are all incredibly cheery and Christmassy, but that also have an incredibly short shelf life. As soon as Christmas day is over, off they go to the loft/cupboard/blanket box for another twelve months.

Not so the sequin cushion. Nope, the sequin cushion – a thing of beauty – will look suitably sparkly all December; partytastic on your sofa over New Year; and if teamed with classy grey or white bedlinen, will give your bedroom a touch of glamour all year long.

The high street have cottoned onto this, and there are plenty to choose from at the moment. My two favourites are the silver ‘Glitzy’ sequin cushion, £12 from Isme.com (also available in red and black); and the on-trend copper sequin cushion, £12.99 from H&M Home (also available in pink and green), both above.

I’m also liking (from left to right, below) this ‘Luxe Large’ sequin cushion, £20 from BHS; this rectangular ‘Sequin Embellished’ cushion from Marks & Spencer; and this sequin number with a black background, £9.99, from H&M Home:

Sequin cushion £20 BHSAnd if you love the idea of metallics but think sequins are just a little too bling…how about this fantastic metallic silver cushion from Tesco Direct, below? It looks uber expensive, but will set you back just £10. Who can argue with that?!

MetallicCushion,£8 Tesco

PS: It’s awards season in the blogging world again, and I’m very excited to be nominated in this years’ blogging Oscars, the UK Blog Awards – in both the ‘Lifestyle’ and the ‘Most Innovative’ categories. So, if you enjoy reading this blog as much as I enjoy writing it, I’d be honoured if you’d click on the below links and vote for me. Voting takes literally seconds – you just enter your name and email address – and would make me incredibly happy!
To vote for me in the ‘Lifestyle’ category, click here:
http://www.blogawardsuk.co.uk/candidates/the-treasure-hunter-uk-2/
To vote for me in the ‘Most Innovative Blog’ category, click here:
http://www.blogawardsuk.co.uk/candidates/the-treasure-hunter-uk/
If you only feel like voting once, please vote in the Lifestyle category. Voting closes on 3rd December.
Thank you!

 

How to get a whole new bedroom for just £150!

26 Nov

photo 1 (3)

Argos is the store where you really can buy anything. It’s long had a reputation for practical items like kettles or washing up bowls – and at bargain prices – but it wasn’t necessarily the first place you’d think of going for great-looking interiors stuff.

Now, that’s changed. Thanks to a team of style-savvy buyers, the new in-house Heart of House range, and the addition of furniture and accessories from Habitat, you can pick up some fab homes bits that look way more expensive than their very reasonable price tags.

To prove this, Argos challenged me to revamp my main bedroom entirely with their products – and on a tight maximum budget of just £150. A boring blank canvas to start with…

photo (90)

…I wanted a fun, colourful scheme that would work with my existing charcoal grey world type map print from Bold & Noble (check it out here). So, to echo the global theme, I took a cheery grass green zebra cushion – just £12 – as a starting point, and based everything else around that.

Here’s the result:

photo (87)

It’s bright and cheery, fairly unisex (Mr Treasure Hunter hates florals!) and very easy to live with.

Want to recreate the look? Here’s my tips:

– Bring a monochrome scheme like this to life with just one or two punchy accent shades. I’ve gone for poppy red and my all-time favourite colour, grass green, which is big news for 2015, by the way!
– When mixing pattern, look for a common thread to tie everything together, whether that’s a shape or a shade. Here, the zebra stripes are echoed in the uneven lines on the duvet…

photo 2 (4)
– It’s a myth that you have to spend a fortune on bedlinen. This ‘Dashes’ set is just £11.99 for a double duvet cover and two pillowcases, and looks way more expensive once it’s dressed up with cushions and a throw. Check out Argos’ other bargain bedding designs here and cushions here.
– Reversible bedding is a great idea, as you can change up your look in seconds. This set is white-with-black stripes on one side, and black-with-white stripes on the other.
– Forget white sheets – add interest with brightly-coloured ones instead, along with matching pillowcases. Here, I’ve gone for bright red.
– Hate your carpet? Give it a whole new look with an inexpensive rug. The one I used has a flat weave, is a decent 120cm x 180cm, and costs just £40. Argos have loads of other colours and textures too – check them out here.
– Desk lamps make perfect bedside lamps as you can direct the light exactly where you need it. The switches are also often more accessible than on table lamps…
photo 2
– Look for quirky-shaped bowls to use as trinket dishes beside your bed for storing little bits and bobs like rings and lipbalm. The dish I used is actually meant for souffles or dips!

And here’s my shopping list:

Dashes double duvet set (double) £11.99. ColourMatch poppy red double fitted sheet £7.99 for a double. ColourMatch poppy red housewife pillowcases £2.50 for a pair. Habitat Zig zebra cushion s £12 each. Red cotton throw £17.99. ColourMatch desk lamps in poppy red £5.99 each. Green Habitat Orrell rug £40. Jones by Newgate Rise and Shine alarm clock £14.99. ColourMatch smoke grey cotton cushion£4.99. Denby cherry red flower ramekin dish £11.99.
TOTAL = £148.42.

1471504_R_Z001A_UC1615980

 

PS: If you enjoy reading this blog as much as I enjoy writing it, I’d be honoured if you’d click on the below links and vote for me in the UK Blog Awards. Voting takes literally seconds – you just enter your name and email address – and would make me incredibly happy!
To vote for me in the ‘Lifestyle’ category, click here:
http://www.blogawardsuk.co.uk/candidates/the-treasure-hunter-uk-2/
To vote for me in the ‘Most Innovative Blog’ category, click here:
http://www.blogawardsuk.co.uk/candidates/the-treasure-hunter-uk/
If you only feel like voting once, please vote in the Lifestyle category. Voting closes on 3rd December.
Thank you!

Topper the morning to you!

24 Nov

like_sleeping_on_a_cloud_by_purplefairy456-d42a5pf

The best night’s sleep I ever had was in a hotel in San Francisco (the Hotel Diva). The bed was so comfy it felt like sinking into a cloud when you lay down. So, what was the secret … in-house hypnosis? Nap-inducing drugs in the air-con system? Nope. A mattress topper.

My bed at home feels anything but cloud-like. Although it’s fairly new and gets flipped/turned regularly, my uber expensive mattress from John Lewis already has more ups and downs than Taylor Swift’s love life.

So, rather than spend another small fortune on a new one, I’ve opted for the San Francisco solution and invested in a high tech Clusterfull mattress topper from The Fine Bedding Company (£85 double or £95 kingsize, view it here):

photo 2

The Rolls Royce of toppers, it looks like a thin duvet, with elastic straps at the corners to attach it to your mattress. It has lots of square internal pockets filled with ‘Smartfil’ fibres, which are apparently coated with a diamond-hard yet silky soft silicone, meaning they slide over  each other rather than getting squished together. The result? Supposedly super breathability (meaning you’re neither too hot nor too cold); snuggleability (!) and durability. The makers claim it’ll keep its soft, spongy plumpness for years.

photo 1

 

This all sounds impressive, but does it work? In short, YES. Easy to fit, I was expecting to feel some lumps and bumps from the mattress, but the topper filled them all. Now, it’s like sleeping on an entirely different bed. I used to find it hard to get back to sleep if I woke in the night, but now I drop back off again as soon as my head hits the pillow. My only regret is that I didn’t get a topper earlier!

Fancy giving your mattress a new lease of life? Here’s my topper tips…

– Think about synthetic vs natural fillings. While you can get luxurious-feeling toppers stuffed with feathers or down, a synthetic filling might be better if you suffer from allergies.
– Look for pockets. In some toppers, the filling is ‘loose’, meaning it can shift around inside. Over time, this can make for a very uneven surface to lie on. Pockets mean the filling is distributed evenly throughout the topper – and it can’t move.
– Prolong the life of your topper with a mattress protector. Many toppers – including mine, even though the filling is synthetic – aren’t washable, so putting a washable protector over the top makes sense. I got the Spundown Mattress Protector, from £30. Here’s how it looks on the bed:

photo 3

 

Right, after sharing all this, I think I need a little lie down. Sweet dreams!

PS: If you enjoy reading this blog as much as I enjoy writing it, I’d be honoured if you’d click on the below links and vote for me in the UK Blog Awards. Voting takes literally seconds – you just enter your name and email address – and would make me incredibly happy!
To vote for me in the ‘Lifestyle’ category, click here:
http://www.blogawardsuk.co.uk/candidates/the-treasure-hunter-uk-2/
To vote for me in the ‘Most Innovative Blog’ category, click here:
http://www.blogawardsuk.co.uk/candidates/the-treasure-hunter-uk/
If you only feel like voting once, please vote in the Lifestyle category. Voting closes on 3rd December.
Thank you!

Let it glow

19 Nov

A shaped marquee lights

One of these on-trend letter lamps will leave your pocket a lot lighter…

Yep, the one on the left is £245 from Goodwin & Goodwin (get it here – also available in every letter up to Z), while the one on the right is just £30 from George Home at Asda Direct (get it here – unsurprisingly they keep selling out, so you may have to sign up for a restock notice…)

So, grab yourself an A-mazing bargain now!

PS: It’s awards season in the blogging world again, and I’m very excited to be nominated in this years’ blogging Oscars, the UK Blog Awards – in both the ‘Lifestyle’ and the ‘Most Innovative’ categories. So, if you enjoy reading this blog as much as I enjoy writing it, I’d be honoured if you’d click on the below links and vote for me. Voting takes literally seconds – you just enter your name and email address – and would make me incredibly happy!
To vote for me in the ‘Lifestyle’ category, click here:
http://www.blogawardsuk.co.uk/candidates/the-treasure-hunter-uk-2/
To vote for me in the ‘Most Innovative Blog’ category, click here:
http://www.blogawardsuk.co.uk/candidates/the-treasure-hunter-uk/
If you only feel like voting once, please vote in the Lifestyle category. Voting closes on 3rd December.
Thank you!

Admit one (into your house)

11 Nov

Cinema ticket doormat

Doormats, let’s face it, are usually pretty boring. After all, there’s only so much you can do with a rectangle shape. This rubber one, however, is thinking a little bit outside the box- and I think it’s pretty awesome.

In the shape of a cinema ticket, it’s perfect for a film fan (or anyone bored of run-of-the-mill mats) and shows guests you’ve got a sense of humour before they’ve even crossed the threshold. Just don’t be surprised if they start demanding a giant vat of Coke and a tub of popcorn.

Get yours from The Gift Oasis for £22.99 here.

It’s a mug’s game

9 Nov

alphabet letter mugs £2 each Matalan

Giving a gift with someone’s initial on always seems that little bit more personal, and over the years, I’ve given many a letter mug to friends (often packaged with a fancy box of tea or coffee) as a thank you or birthday present.

Thing is, these mugs usually cost around a tenner each. So when I saw these fab alphabet mugs from Matalan for, wait for it, just £2 each, I got more than a little excited. At that price, you could even splash out on a set of several for a family; or buy a pair for a couple.

Obviously the popular letters are bound to get snapped up first, so if you want one (or several) better get yourself down to Matalan or visit their website pronto.

letter a mug Matalan £2PS: Love the idea but not got there fast enough? Oliver Bonas do almost idential alphabet mugs for the more pricely sum of £10 each, here. In fact, they have a whole range of alphabet stuff, from candles to washbags – well worth checking out.

 

From Catwalk to Cushion (part 2)!

4 Nov

catwalk to cushion 1

Above:
FOLK Catwalk – Temperley London/Cushion – Matthew Williamson at Debenhams £28.
STRIPES Catwalk – Sass & Bide/Cushion – Ikea £4.

One of my favourite ever posts on this blog has to be ‘From Catwalk to Cushion’ (from September 2013 – read it here).

Earlier this month, I was asked to recreate it for Notebook (the magazine published with the Sunday Mirror) as part of their recent Homes Special. The idea was to find cushions that were inspired by the Autumn/Winter 2014 fashion runways.

Well, I LOVED researching this piece so much, I thought I’d share my catwalk/cushion comparisons with you. So here it is, ‘From Catwalk to Cushion’ Part 2. Enjoy!

Catwalk to cushion 2

GREY Catwalk – Christopher Kane/Cushion – H&M Home £14.99.
ROSES Catwalk – Giambattista Valli/Cushion – Wilko £7

Catwalk to cushion 3

METALLIC Catwalk – Antonio Beradi/Cushion – H&M Home £12.99
LEOPARD Catwalk – Sportmax/Cushion – Tesco Direct £16

Catwalk to cushion 4

COLOUR BLOCK Catwalk – Tsumori Chisato/Cushion – Ikea £7
FOXY Catwalk –  Dolce & Gabbana/Cushion – Dunelm £12.99

Catwalk to cushion 5

PURPLE Catwalk – Prada/Cushion – Wilko £8
INDIGO Catwalk – Temperley London/Cushion – Sainsbury’s £16

Catwalk to cushion 6

CHECK Catwalk – Tommy Hilfiger/Catwalk – Homebase £11.99
ZIGZAG Catwalk – Issa/Cushion – Zazzle £25.95

Catwalk to cushion 8

TWO TONE Catwalk – Emanuel Ungaro/Cushion – Very.co.uk £15
BLUE Catwalk – Richard Nicoll/Cushion – Wilko £6.50

Catwalk to cushion 7

WOLF Catwalk – Antonio Marras/Cushion – Tesco Direct £8
FURRY Catwalk – Prada/Cushion – Dunelm £7.99

Catwalk to cushion 9

EMBROIDERED Catwalk – Temperley London/Cushion – Dwell £49
BUTTERFLIES Catwalk – Valentino/Cushion – Marks & Spencer £19.50

Any excuse to eat cake!

29 Oct

COUNTRY Orla Kiely set of 5 Cake Tins £37 Uniqueandunity.co.uk

A while ago I blogged about my amazing set of Orla Kiely cake tins – a set so gorgeous that months on, they still sit proudly in a stack on my kitchen worksurface, rather than hiding away in a cupboard.

Well, Orla has just released some new prints – available on everything from mugs to storage – and her cake tins have had a makeover too. What’s more, they’re just as AMAZING. At £37 for a set at John Lewis or Unique & Unity, they’d make a lovely gift and they’re fairly reasonable too, when you consider you get five.

I can’t think of a single better excuse to bake (or just buy) more cakes and biscuits!

PS: Not got room for five cake tins? Try the trio of storage canisters / caddy set instead, £25 from John Lewis (here) or Unique & Unity (here):

pear canisters by orla kiely

Bargain bedroom makeover

27 Oct

Wide shot bedroom (widest)

Kitting out a bedroom from scratch can be expensive – whether you’ve just bought your first place; have had an extension; are moving into new rented or student accommodation; or are simply giving a tired room a complete revamp. When you’ve got everything from bedding and cushions to accessories to think about, making somewhere look homely can mount up – fast.

The thing is, stylish, good quality yet cheap homewares aren’t always easy to find. Which is why I’m a huge fan of Tesco Direct‘s new homes ranges. The supermarket has really upped its game when it comes to interiors recently, and their collections for this Autumn/Winter are fantastic. There’s a contemporary country look with pale blue and natural wood; an Oriental collection with velvet, teal, hot pink and purple; an ‘Old Hollywood’ look with glamorous black, copper and gold; an update on the cosy cabin look with oranges and tartans; and my favourite, a monochrome Manhattan loft collection, with pops of red, black and navy.

So, when Tesco challenged me to make over the bedroom in my new loft on a budget, it wasn’t difficult. I set myself a budget of £350, with the aim of creating a bright, fun, friendly space where guests would instantly feel at home. This is the very boring room beforehand…

Bedroom before

And this (plus the pic at the top of this post) is the room after!

After shot

I decided to stick to Tesco’s recommended palette of black, white, red and blue, as it’s easy to add to – or change – as time goes on.

My top tips for a scheme like this:

–  Boost the impact of a patterned duvet set by pairing it with co-ordinating plain coloured pillowcases and sheets.
–  A chair is a big-ish investment, but will give your room a really ‘finished’ look (and provide somewhere for guests to sit/lay their clothes).
–  Storage boxes are a great way to keep clutter out of sight – choose patterned ones that go with the decor.
–  Combine a radio and alarm clock to take up less space on the bedside table.
–  Make your own artwork to save money – I bought two plain white frames, and got a local framer to make a mount with four apertures, which I filled with Pantone postcards.
–  Follow the geometric theme through elsewhere in the room, for example, in the pattern on the vase, and on the chair cushion.

Close up of bed cushion and artwork

And my top buys? The geometric duvet set (which Mr Treasure Hunter wasn’t at all convinced about beforehand, but now loves); the handy – and bargaintastic – bedside lamps, which look way more expensive than their £15 price tags; and the stylish grey fabric retro tub chair, which at £119 is far nicer and cheaper than anything similar I’ve seen elsewhere (it comes in other colours, and if you’ve got the space, there’s a matching sofa for £169 too!):

Close up side table

If you want to recreate the look, here’s my complete shopping list:

Geo triangle duvet cover and pillow set, double (also available in single and kingsize) £15. Twin pack housewife pillowcases in red royal (available in other colours) £3. Brooklyn desk lamps in white (also available in chrome) £15 each. Arai cushion in red (also available in blue) £10. ‘No place like home’ cushion £14. Retro fabric tub chair in charcoal £119 (also available in red or mocha – and there’s a matching sofa in each colourway too!). Lightweight knitted pouffe in red (also available in chocolateivory, lime or pink) £40. View Quest mini DAB+/FM radio in red (available in many colours) £59.95. White vase £10. Space dyed throw in grey £20. Black & white storage boxes from £3.50. Basic photo frames in white (11″ x 14″) £5.60 – all from Tesco.
TOTAL: £335.65

I also added a couple of items I already owned: Red Tvis rugs £4.50 each, Ikea. Travel Europe print by Robert Crampton £26.99 for 61cm x 81cm (prices start at £13.99 for a 20cm x 30cm print), Allposters.co.uk, which was framed by a local framemaker. Pantone postcard box of 100 postcards £12.78 Amazon.

PS: If you’ve made-over a room on a budget, drop me a line at thetreasurehunteruk@gmail.com – I’d love to see some pix!

bedroom with focus on chair

 

 

It’s about time

24 Oct

habitat clocks

If you live in the UK, you’ll be pleased to hear you get an extra hour in bed next Sunday when the clocks go back.

Personally – although I reckon you never need an excuse to go shopping – I also think it’s the perfect time (sorry) to buy a new clock.

This Autumn, the most stylish ones by far are from Habitat, above, who have a huge designer-look selection at not too eyewatering prices.

I also really love this very stylish black and copper Acctim wall clock from Tesco Direct, £30…

CITY Acctim copper wall clock £30 Sainsbury's (angle shot)…this friendly wooden owl clock from Next, a steal at £16…

THREE OF A KIND Owl wall clock £16 Next…this Kaleido Geometric clock £25 from Hunkydoryhome

SONY DSC…or this fun Milk Bottle clock £12 from Asda, which currently has pride of place in my kitchen:

THREE OF A KIND George Home bottle clock £12 Asda

 

 

 

Create a cosy reading nook… on a budget

20 Oct

Dunelm happy cushion

In the corner of my office is a lonely sofabed. I’ve been meaning to do something with it for a while (other than pile papers and magazines on it):

Dunelm red before

Then Dunelm, as part of their #MyDunelmBag campaign, challenged me to show how you can makeover an area of your home for just £50, using only homewares available instore or online at Dunelm‘s webite.

Everything they sell is such a bargain, it wasn’t difficult. With £50 to spend, you can easily transform an unloved area like the above into a cosy reading nook. The ingredients? A ‘Happy’ cushion £9.99 (made of good quality fabric, with a hidden zip and sky-blue underside – a total steal!), supersoft Basketweave throw £17.49 (also available in red), cute owl table lamp £12.99, Folk floral barrel mug £2.49, Cosy Skandi side plate £1.99 and a 1L Kilner preserving jar (which I’ve used to store pens) £2.99. The only thing I added other than these was an old crate, which I used as a side/table/mini bookcase (although Dunelm also sell lovely white painted new crates like these from just £5.99 here).

And here’s the end result:

Dunelm red after2

It’s a friendly, welcoming space I actually want to spend time in. What’s more, the grand total came to just £47.94. Not bad, eh!

Feeling inspired? You can win a whopping £250 in Dunelm vouchers by taking photos of your recent Dunelm purchases and sharing them online with the #mydunelmbag hashtag on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram before the 28th October 2014.

Happy shopping/snapping!

 

 

 

 

Never judge a book by its cover

9 Oct

bookshelf

Spot anything unusual about the bookshelf above? No? Then read on…

Last week, I spent an entire evening hunting for my driver’s licence. I eventually found it down the back of a drawer. This isn’t unusual – in fact, I regularly spend hours looking for important things such as passports, credit cards, etc. Thing is, I don’t like putting vital documents in easy-to-find places, in case someone found them who shouldn’t.

So, I was thrilled to find a way to a) stop losing things; b) keep important stuff safe; and c) finally SORT MY LIFE OUT.

The answer? A secret book storage box, from new online gift and homes boutique, Flitty Bird (www.flittybird.co.uk). From the outside, it looks like, well, a book. But open it up and it’s a sturdy MDF box with magnetic closure, that stores all those vital bits and bobs while keeping them safe from prying eyes. Genius, eh?

book box shut

There are three designs to choose from, and they cost a really reasonable £12 each (or £30 for a set of three):

-png-_7_

If you want to get one of your own, you might fancy a browse at the other stuff available on the site too. There are some lovely gifts and homewares, including this handy Bloomingville basket £19.99; Grumpy Bear china drawer knob £17 (expensive but SO cute); set of eight Omm design matchboxes £8.99; a clever QR code cushion £19.99; and these fun ‘Yours/Mine/Guests’ hooks, £7.99 each (bottom)…

bloomingville_basket_with_handle flittybird

bloomingville_hooks_3 flittybird

 

Raise your glasses

7 Oct

EAT_17_GLASSES_3_AU14_2_A

Why have boring clear wine glasses when you could have these lovely coloured vintage ones instead?

With a pleasingly chunky stem (so you’re less likely to snap them while washing up!) they come in a mix of dusky pastel shades – purple, teal, pink and grey.

A set of four costs £39.50 from Marks & Spencer (www.marksandspencer.com), and you can get matching vintage tumblers (for £35) too. Bottoms up!

 

Vintage Inspired Wine Glasses £39.50 for four Marks and Spencer

Blurred lines

3 Oct

Betty Jackson, Tripod lamp with Geo shade £65 Debenhams

Why stick to the straight and narrow when  you can zig zag instead? One of the cheeriest homes trends of the moment, zig zags – or chevrons as designers prefer to call ’em – are everywhere right now.

While my other half, Mr Treasurehunter, says they make him feel like he’s had one too many beers, I personally love them, and am lusting after a black and white chevron rug for my home office.

If you really, really, really wanna zig zag-ah (sorry!), there’s a huge array of different colours, widths and products out there, and a couple of chevron cushions or a chevron shade will not only brighten up your room, but your day too. Here’s my pick of the best:

Top: Lamp £65 Betty Jackson Black at Debenhams; Chevron wall clock £31.05 Shannybebo at Etsy.com/uk; Teapot £21.95 Zazzle.co.uk

Below: Chevron lampshades £2.99 each The Range (www.therange.co.uk)…

Chevron lampshades from the range

 

Below: Picture frame £16 Oliver Bonas; Fabric storage trays £32 for set of three, Living by Christiane Lemieux at House of Fraser; Vase £15 BHS; Duvet set £14 for a double Wilko

Duvet Set Black £14 for double Wilko

Below: Chevron print mugs £5 for four George Home at Asda Direct

Chevon print mugs £5 for four George at AsdaBelow: Towels from £9 Betty Jackson Black at Debenhams

 

 

Black by Betty Jackson towels from £9 Debenhams

Below: Mind the Gap tray £19.99 and Between the Lines cushion £39.99 London Transport Museum Shop (www.ltmuseumshop.co.uk)

Mind the Gap Tray £19.99 ltmuseumshop.co.uk

 

Below: Eileen rug £70.95 Joss & Main; Zig zags cushion £21.95 Zazzle.co.uk; Zig zag pouffe £150 Debenhams

Eileen Rug £70.95 Joss & Main

Below: Sabichi Herringbone throws (in plum or grey) £15 each, Very.co.uk

RRD-GBSPE-10205925

 

A proper cuppa

30 Sep

photo 2 (7)If you love old-school Penguin book covers, then you’ll love these.

The Literary Gift Company (www.theliterarygiftcompany.com) has just launched new personalisable book cover mugs – you make up a title, and give them an ‘author’s’ name, and they’ll print you up a mug in one of three colours (green, blue or mustard) for £12.95. It’s such an ingenious idea, I can’t believe no-one has thought of it before.

The real beauty of it is that you don’t have to stick to existing book titles. You can choose anything you like. For mine, above, there wasn’t really any competition – I knew immediately what to order. But you could be as creative/funny/topical as you like, as in these examples:

SONY DSC

What’s more, each mug comes in a box with shredded book pages as protective packaging (below, left). Clever eh?

photo 1 (7)They’d make an amazing present for any book lover, particularly those people who are tricky to buy for, like dads and brothers.

Order yours here. Oh, and if you think of a really good title to use, drop me a line – I’ve got a feeling I’m going to be ordering a load more of ’em come Christmas time…

 

 

25% off at Habitat? Yes please!

24 Sep

140331_fredd_819_RGB

Visiting a stylish friend’s house the other week, I admired her brightly-coloured school-style dining chairs. “Habitat” she said proudly. And her oversized ceiling shades? “Habitat”. And her expensive-looking cushion? “Habitat!”

Habitat has been producing some lovely stuff recently, but if, like me, you have more of an Ikea-kind of budget, it can be just that little bit too expensive at times. So, I was very excited to get advance notice of a flash sale tomorrow, both online at www.Habitat.co.uk and instore (early birds can start shopping the sale prices from 7pm tonight online), where there will be 25% off EVERYTHING. There’s no need for a code – discounts will be deducted at the checkout.

Top of my shopping list is the Zig zebra cushion, which will be just £9 (normally £12); closely followed by the sunny Blossom side table, £37.50 (normally £50); and the stylish jade Mia jewellery box, £22.50 (normally £30):

234366

Other top tips include their fab geometric bedding (top), and their gorgeous vases and candlesticks in this season’s “it” shade, copper:

COPPER_RGB

 

So, what are you waiting for? Set your alarms, and I’ll race you to the checkout!

 

Down to the wire

17 Sep

Oliver Bonas wire furniture lifestyle shot

If you haven’t been into Oliver Bonas for a while (or checked out their website, http://www.oliverbonas.com), it’s definitely worth taking a peek. As well as reasonably-priced bright and funky jewellery, fun nick-nacky type gifts and a neat range of flirty dresses, they’ve been making huge strides with their homewares recently.

My favourite of their new offerings has to be these cool iron wirework shelving units, available in several sizes and an array of colours, including neon brights, go-with-anything white, and this season’s must-have shade, copper. They’d work as everything from bedside tables to home office storage, and are definitely more exciting than the usual wooden or MDF offerings found elsewhere.

960175_2_August

Costing £65 (for a two-hole version), £85 (three holes) or £165 (huge nine-hole version), they’ll be available from mid-September – ie: any day now. I’m coveting a small two-hole version in orange, below, for my new study – how about you?

Orange Iron Storage Shelf £60 Oliver Bonas NEW SEASON

 

Bin somewhere nice?

3 Sep

233137013

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, there’s a distinct lack of good-looking wastepaper baskets on the market these days. For some reason, most of the bin designs out there are a bit, well, rubbish.

However, good old John Lewis (www.johnlewis.com) has addressed the problem. I’m after a bin for my office, and the new green wire one from their ‘House’ collection, £15 (above, left) is perfect. Okay, so the on-trend wire design may not be any good if you regularly throw away small things like paperclips, or anything that might spill, but it will look arty with crumpled up paper inside.

There’s a yellow version too, for £20 (it seems you have to pay £5 for the luxury of handles!).

Want one? You can get the green one here and the yellow one here.

 

 

On reflection

27 Aug

hanging-circular-mirror--30cm-£15 Matalan

Every season the high street gets better and better at bringing out reasonably-priced versions of designer homewares. I’ve been lusting after a mirror-on-a-rope for a while now, but they usually cost silly amounts of money. So, well done Matalan for creating this new little beauty (available here), above, which is a decent 30cm wide and costs just £15. Bargain eh?

I’m also loving this PS Table Mirror from Ikea, below (details here), which is perfect for a dressing table. As well as being a handy makeup mirror, it’s a jewellery stand too. Part of the store’s more exclusive PS designer range, it looks way more expensive than it’s £15 price tag.

ikea-ps--table-mirror £15

 

Come in! Your number’s up (plus get 20% off)

19 Aug

old door number

Anyone who’s ever watched TV programme The House Doctor (or anything presented by Phil and Kirstie, for that matter) will be familiar with the phrase ‘kerb appeal’.

I’m ashamed to say that until very recently, the front of my house had pretty much zero kerb appeal, as it was covered in ugly scaffolding, and the front garden was full of builder’s rubbish. Once that had gone, I realised  it needed some serious TLC.

And one of the easiest and quickest ways to give an entrance a facelift is by changing the house or door number. My house came with an old-fashioned (not to mention faded) oval plaque, above left. But, what should replace it?

The first thing I discovered is that stylish house numbers can cost an arm and a leg. But then I stumbled upon www.housenameplate.co.uk. It sells all kinds of house numbers and nameplates, in everything from natural-looking materials like slate and wood, to really modern acrylic and stainless steel:

acrylic cut out number

The great thing about the site is that you can ‘try before you buy’ thanks to their online tool that lets you see how your house number will look before you add it to your basket. And with a two-digit house number sign costing around £20-28 depending on the material you choose, it’s not bad value either, for something that’s going to stick around for years to come.

What’s more, the site also sells house name plaques, letterboxes and outside door furniture, so that you can smarten up the rest of your entranceway too.

What should you go for? A really good-looking house number should mirror the style of your house – from the type of windows to the colour of the front door. My house is a Victorian terrace, so while I wanted something modern, I didn’t want to go overboard. So, when the nice people at the Housenameplate company offered to make the number of my choice for this blog, I went for their acrylic design. You can choose from a variety of coloured backgrounds, but I went for dark grey – top, right – to mirror the slate chippings in my front garden, and the fact my door is soon to be painted purple. A number like this would cost £20, and if you want sliver-coloured fixings (to hide the screws), they’re an extra fiver on top.

The whole thing was very easy to fit – you just need to drill two holes in your outside wall with a drill, using the holes in the plaque as a guide – and that’s it. Looks so much better, doesn’t it?!

GET 20% OFF AT HOUSENAMEPLATE.CO.UK

To help you improve your kerb appeal, http://www.housenameplate.co.uk is offering Treasure Hunter readers 20% off any acrylic house number plate (available in a square, round or rectangular shape, and with a variety of coloured backgrounds and numerals) until 30th September 2014. Simply enter code TTH201401 at the online checkout. Happy shopping!

round acrylic number

 

Make a date

7 Aug

 

kikkerland calendar box on its own

Ever feel you’re so busy you don’t know what day it is? Well, with this super cool gizmo you’ll have no excuse.

Designed by trendsters Kikkerland, it looks like some kind of mid-century board game, but is in fact a handy calendar. Just place it on your shelf/desk/mantlepiece or hang it on a wall; then turn the coloured knobs to set the day, date and month.

What’s more, the front slides off to reveal a secret little box for things you want to keep safe, such as your keys, tickets or even your phone. I fell in love with it the minute I saw it, and have just invested in one for my new desk.

The Kikkerland Calendar Box costs £16.80 from Fred Aldous – they’ve just sold out (I must have bought the last one!) but they’re coming back in stock any day and there’s a form on their site that you can fill in to reserve yours. Alternatively, several Ebay sellers have new ones for sale too.

Kikkerland calendar box with hand

Sofabed so good

5 Aug

sofa-bed-twingle-redas-sofa-red

Who knew sofa beds could be so expensive, unattractive and uncomfortable? I need one for my new study, but I’m short on space and everything in the shops is either way over £400, or pretty darn ugly.

Yes, Ikea do some decent ones, but most are either really long, or pretty pedestrian looks-wise. What I wanted was one that didn’t take up much space, looked nice when in ‘sofa mode’ and didn’t cost the earth.

The answer? I went to The Futon Company (www.thefutoncompany.co.uk). I admit, I’ve always been a bit biased towards futons, assuming they were a bit hippy-ish, so I was pleasantly surprised when I saw their range. As well as double sofa beds and single sofa chairs, they do a really sweet single sofa bed called a Twingle, top.

Looking like a cute, almost Japanese mini sofa during the day, it’s just 150cm wide. You simply flip down one side to turn it into a daybed; or both sides to turn it into a single bed within seconds:

sofa-bed-twingle-fieldmouse-as-longchaise-lge

It comes in red, blue or ‘fieldmouse’ (beige to you and me). There’s an optional storage drawer that slots underneath, and you can even paint the wooden frame if you like:

colour-twingle-side-shot-green

At £279, it’s not mega cheap, but it is way less expensive than most other single sofabeds on the market; looks really unusual; and is a darn sight comfier as both a sofa and a bed than either the usual fold-out-foam models or metal-framed springy versions. I’ve bought one in cheery red, as it’ll look good against the white walls of my home office, piled with bright cushions.

The Futon Company don’t just sell chairs and sofas though. I was also really impressed by their range of good-looking but incredibly reasonable furniture and accessories. My faves? Below, clockwise from top left: the clever folding wardrobe, £49.95, which is great for a spare room; the designer-look coat hook, £14.95; and the stackable bamboo cube, £29.95:

bamboo-wardrobe-new-open-lge

 

 

 

Nice and pen tidy

31 Jul

desk tidy

We’re nearing the end of our loft conversion project (hallelujah!), which means I can stop thinking about things like plastering and electrics, and start the fun part – kitting out my new home office.

First on the list is storage – for everything from my stacks of magazines to the little things like pens and pencils. In a dream world, I’d get a Uten Silo wall organiser, designed by Vitra (above, pic courtesy of MarthaStewart.com), which is AMAZING, but as it costs £217 to £269 in red, black or white at Heals; or £227 at Nest (gulp!), sadly that’s just a pipe dream at the moment.

So, I’ve been looking for other options. Which brings me to pen pots. When I went to a the launch of a fab new homes website Joss & Main recently, they were encouraging journalists to decorate their own pen tidy using Sharpie pens on unglazed tealight holders. I think the idea was that we’d all create something very stylish, but as I had my two-year-old with me, I decided to let him lose on my one instead. The results are below. It’s not going to win any design prizes, but I love it, and it’s going to have pride of place on my new desk. It’s a great idea for anyone with kids – they could even make them as gifts for friends and grandparents:

Sam's DIY pen pot

Of course, you can store pens in anything, from tin cans to mugs, but if you don’t like the idea of making your own (and you either don’t have or hate kids, so the above idea doesn’t appeal!), there are surprisingly few stylish pen pots out there. Most are either really boring and functional, or naff.

However, you do have options. I’ve fallen in love with these fun – and incredibly bargainous – Hop 2 pen pots, just £2 each from Tesco Direct. I’m definitely going to get a couple for my new desk:

Hop 2 School Pencil Pot £2 each Tesco

This pencil sharpener-shaped pot by Suck UK (£15, below) is brilliant, too. And if you want your pen pot to be useful but unobtrusive, I like the simplicity of this Osco 5 Tube Acrylic Pen Pot, £6 by John Lewis:

Pencil Sharpener Desk Tidy £15 suck.uk.com

If you have any other ideas for pen-management, I’d love to hear about them!

 

Get the look: Sweet Shop Shades

28 Jul

Pastels shoot - main room shot with accent chair

One of this summer’s biggest trends, pastels are the perfect way to inject some light, life and colour into your home. But forget pale, wishy washy shades, this season’s pastels are brighter and punchier – think candy pinks, mint greens, sky blues and calming lilacs.

I was thrilled to style up a room for a feature in The Sunday Mirror’s Notebook magazine recently, showing readers how to get the pastel look. The brief? The sofa/armchair were to be from DFS, and everything else had to be affordable and from the high street.

The end results are above and below. To help you recreate the look, here’s my tips on being pale yet interesting…

  • Take a wow factor wall canvas or cushion as a starting point; then pick out colours from the print to use elsewhere in the scheme. The wall art I used is from Australian website Urban Road, who’ve recently started selling in the UK. Check them out for huge contemporary canvases at really decent prices:Pastels shoot - wall art close up
  • Contrast paler, chalky hues with splashes of bolder shades for a more contemporary feel:Pastels shoot - macaroonsPastels shoot - candlesticks close up
  • Pale pastel paint is a fresh alternative to white. Mix things up by pairing green and blue or pink and yellow on different walls.
  • Light natural wooden furniture in oak or ash will warm things up; then add a colour-popping metal side table or two:Pastels shoot - bowls close up
  • A grey sofa is a good investment. It will ground the room – stopping it from feeling too girly – and should work with almost any other scheme should you wish to redecorate in a couple of years’ time! I loved the retro-feel of the DFS Mira sofa and accent chair I used in the shoot.
  • Add retro accessories – an old skool radio (the one I used is a steal from Argos) or phone, or a vintage-style armchair will give your room personality:Pastels shoot - accent chair close up
  • Avoid colour overload by keeping curtains sheer; then add a white or neutral blind if you need more privacy.
  • Use flowers to accessorize all areas Go big and bold with pink or white blossom and catkin branches; or dainty and delicate with pastel freesias, peonies or tulips. The flowers you want not in season? Cheat with fakes from Bloom or John Lewis – these days they’re so well made you can hardly tell the difference unless you get up close.
  • Pale wood flooring will keep the scheme looking modern, while a pale candy-striped rug will help subtly define your seating area. The one I used is from an amazing website called CarpetVista – if you’re after a large rug on a small budget, they’re well worth checking out.

AND HERE’S WHERE TO BUY EVERYTHING…

Mira 3-seater sofa £999 DFSMira accent chair £669 DFSBen de Lisi set of two metal tables £95 DebenhamsWire table £75 Oliver BonasCotton stripe rug from £70.84 Carpetvista.comTuscany sideboard £159 Very.co.uk; Tuscany ready assembled large bookcase £199 Very.co.ukSpring Rain canvas from £64.34 UrbanRoad.com.auGeorge Nelson blue block clock £65 BluesuntreeWall print £19.50 for pack of four Marks & SpencerGreen scandiphone £41.95 bloomsburystore.comLavender patent pocket Filofax £28 Filofax.co.ukBamboo gloss lacquer bowls £5 (small) £12 (large) Oliver BonasBush Retro DAB Radio £69.99 ArgosAqua wire fruit bowl £15 DebenhamsSuperliving candlesticks from £17 each Northlighthomestore.comMaxi tealight holder £2 TescoBeehive throw in rose £49 Welshblankets.co.ukHerringbone throw in apple green £49 Welshblankets.co.ukBlue Brakig cushion £10 IkeaHeron cushion £20 Magpieline.comDiamond cushion £8 TescoBalloon cushion £8 TescoQuilted Diamond  Persimmon cushion £35 Nitin GoyalGraduate Collection Geo Pastels cushion £40 letitreign.co.ukDulcie frame £14 Oliver BonasSoy Wax scented candle no.3 £9.95 Dotcomgiftshop.comCockatoo on perch £16.95 Rigby & MacMeow storage tins £12 for three Magpieline.comLavender Knitted Pod £70 NextArtificial blossom and catkins £15 each Bloom.uk.com

Main_Set_Styling_RT

Above: Me, working my (ahem) magic!

Everything must go!

24 Jul

Sandcastle bowls on sale at Hunkydoryhome

It’s no secret that I can’t resist a bargain, so this time of year, when the summer sales kick in, is prime shopping time. Only thing is, many so-called sales aren’t actually that great. Shops knock a few quid off here and there, and that’s it.

So, I was very excited to see one of my favourite websites, Hunkydoryhome.co.uk, have gone a little bit crazy with their sale. It’s not a huge sale, granted, but there are some lovely things at rock bottom prices, and it’s well worth a look, particularly if you’re one of those people who likes to stock up on Christmas pressies early.

My top picks? The beautiful ceramic sandcastle-shaped bowls, above, ideal for anything from food to pens, now £7.50 each (was £19.95); the on-trend green parquet cushion, now £11.25 (was £28); the cute Night Owl tea towel, now £3.74 (was £10) and the stylish retro Skandi Amanda sugar bowl – perfect for storing earrings or nicknacks if you’re not a sugar fan – now £5.25 (was £14.50).

night owl tea towel from hunkydoryhome

If you’re quick, you could even grab some goodies designed by Gillian Kyle (see previous post) – for example, a set of  four Tunnock’s Teacakes coasters is now just £4.13 (was £12.75).

Race you to the checkout!

Great Scot!

22 Jul

photo 2 (3)

If there’s one thing I love almost as much as cakes and biscuits, it’s homewares with cakes and biscuits on.

So, I’ve been seriously lusting after pretty much everything by Scottish designer Gillian Kyle (www.gilliankyle.co.uk). Taking her inspiration from the brilliant packaging of sweet treats such as Tunnock’s Teacakes, Caramel Wafers, Caramel Logs, Wham bars and Scottish fudge; as well as favourites such as fish’n’chips, oatcakes and retro Creamola foam crystals, her quirky, fun and colourful range includes everything from mugs and tote bags to coasters, aprons and ovenmitts (check them out at the bottom of this post). And, while it’s all reasonably priced, it’s also great quality – handprinted and made in the UK.

photo 1 (3)

However, it’s her red and white rectangular Caramel Wafer and round teacakes cushions, £36.50 each, that are my absolute faves. Gillian has very kindly given me one of her wafer designs for my new home office, above, and it really is a thing of beauty. In tactile, unbleached organic cotton, it’s filled with duck feathers (none of your synthetic nonsense here) and squishes just the right amount when you sit against it. At 32cm x 54cm, it’s a perfect size for an armchair or sofa, or would look cool teamed with a red throw on a plain white bedspread. I LOVE it.

The only problem is, I’m now tempted to get the matching coasters (£12.75 for four) to go with it!

Gillian Kyle coasters

Gillian’s stuff makes great gifts that you won’t find all over the high street. What’s more, if you know any Scots or Brits abroad, the teatowels and coasters are light, flat and easy-to-post without costing an arm and leg in shipping costs. To buy her designs, visit http://www.gilliankyle.com

Creamola mug gillian kyle

Above: Creamola mug £11.50, Delicious ices tea towel £5.70, Tunnock’s Teacakes round cushion £36.50

Fish and chips apron from Gillian Kyle

Above: Fish and Chips apron £19.95, Oatcakes tea towel £9.50, Victorian Lemonade tote bag £16

PS: Gillian is one of six finalists in the Glasgow’s Favourite Business awards, hosted by the city’s Evening Times (more info here). To vote for her, email businessawards@eveningtimes.co.uk stating ‘Gillian Kyle to win!’

 

Anyone for tennis?

27 Jun

Dunlop Green Flash trainers (pair) £29.99 Shuperb.co.uk

Forget the football. With Wimbledon now in full swing, this week and next week it’s all about tennis.

To celebrate, I’m seriously considering treating myself to a pair of the greatest old skool tennis shoes every created, Dunlop Green Flash. I used to have an amazing pair of my mum’s, which had survived since the Sixties, but sadly I wore them to death. Hard to get hold of these days, you can still buy them from Shuperb.co.uk for a very reasonable £29.99, here.

More original than the flood of Nikes and Converse everyone else is wearing, they’re incredibly comfy and hardwearing; go well with skirts, shorts or jeans; and suit pretty much everyone.

Still feeling inspired? Why not put your pre/post-match Pimm’s in one of these cute strawberry glasses, just £3 for four from Asda; sit down on a traditional check blanket throw, £15 from Sainsbury’s; and dry yourself off after a dip in the pool with an official Wimbledon championships towel, £29 from the tournament shop, www.shop.wimbledon.com

Wimbledon kit

And if you’re lucky enough to get to the tournament yourself, avoid the queues at the over-priced Wimbledon restaurants and settle down on Henman Hill (or is it now called Murray Mound?!) with a picnic carried in a proper hamper. Most wicker hampers cost well over £50, but this little beauty is just £29.99 from Asda, and has plenty of room for a four-person feast:

4 person picnic hamper £29.99 George at Asda

 

 

 

Lolly good fun

26 Jun

Ice Lolly LIghts £21 berryred.co.uk

I’m a sucker for novelty lighting, and these mega cute ice lolly fairy lights, £21, from BerryRed.co.uk have got the competition licked!

They look almost good enough to eat and, puns aside, are perfect for summer parties, either indoors or out.

Ice Lolly LIghts £21 berryred.co.uk A

Blooming lovely!

21 May

Dunelm Mill floral cushions

This week, London plays host to the Chelsea Flower Show. My dad’s a botanist, and so I was lucky to visit the show several times as a kid. I always loved walking round the imaginative gardens packed with every plant under the sun, and tents full of amazing arrangements.

So I’m loving the current trend – in both fashion and homewares – for fabulous florals. Forget girly, ditzy prints, it’s all about beautiful, blowsy blooms in bright, bold hues.

Adding florals is a great, cheap way to inject a bit of fun into your home – a couple of colourful cushions like those from Dunelm Mill above (L-R: Meadow Breeze, Florale, Gigli, all a bargainous £9.99 each) will look stunning against white bedlinen or on a plain sofa. Use them to make a statement on their own, or jazz things up further by adding unpatterned accent cushions or throws in contrasting shades.

Next have got a great selection of florals this season (L-R: Bold Chrysanthemum rug, from £70; Raspberry felt flower cushion £14; Square felt flower cushion £14; Elegant Hydrangea rug, from £95)…

Next rugs and cushions with flowers

 

…Then there’s the folk floral trend, which works brilliantly in the kitchen (L-R: Carolyn Donnelly Eclectic Flower Teapot £17 Dunnes Stores; Floral storage tins £6.99 each, Mollie & Fred)…

Gypsy folk floral homewares…and I LOVE these Japanese print Esmie handbound A6 notebooks, £13 each, from Berry Red:

Esmie handbound A6 notebooks £13 Berryred.co.uk

 

You can get floral bedlinen too (below right: Meadow Breeze duvet set, from £11, Dunelm Mill); and even plastic outdoor picnicware (below centre and left: At Home With Ashley Thomas melamine plates and plastic hi-ball glasses, both £16 for four, Debenhams):

Delicate floral homewares

Plus there are all kinds of other fun bits and bobs to be found – I like this amazing-smelling Cherry Blossom Handcream (£6.50, Pierrot et Coco); these Rose fairy lights (£12, Cargo Homeshop) and crazy Floral Sunglasses (£1.99, Home Bargains, also available in other colours):

Girly florals

Finally, why not go the whole hog and dress in florals too? I’m particularly lusting after these fab basketball shoes – cheaper than Converse and just as wearable for summertime (L-R: Floral t-shirt £24, Next; George at Asda Statement flower necklace £12 coming soon at Asda.com; Canvas basketball shoes £20, Next: Dalton Sunflower Shift Dress £24.99, Daisy Street, also available in orange/green; Floral Mac £28, Next):

Floral fashion from Next DaisyStreet and George at Asda

 

Having a ball

2 Apr

Hanging Cluster 1000

How much fun are these beach ball lights? Far more exciting than your usual paper-style lantern, these are made from strong PVC with an airtight LED lighting compartment. Created by the former Head of Store Design at Habitat, they come flatpacked so that you can blow them up with a vacuum cleaner to get that firm, bouncy look:

Beach ball lights kids bedroom

Aimed at cool kids’ rooms, they look equally quirky in a more adult setting. Pop one in your downstairs loo, or hang a row somewhere unexpected, like the kitchen:

Interior Shot Beach Balls HIGH 2.7mb

 

Available in pendant and floor/tabletop versions, they’re not exactly a bargain at £90 each, but they will look fantastic, get you lots of admiring comments, and remind you of summer all year long.

Get yours at beachballlights.com

 

 

 

Animal magic

27 Feb

Abode by Magpie tins

British brand Magpie (www.magpieline.com) make some lovely things – from their gift-worthy mugs with different letters of the alphabet on, through to their cushions and tableware with 1950s-inspired bird prints. So I was really excited to see their new range – Abode – featuring four little animals in their natural habitats.

Inspired by geometric patterns as well as African and Scandinavian design, they’re fun, quirky and totally covetable.

Top of my wishlist is the handy set of three tins, £16, above. They’d work equally well in a home office or bedroom as they would in the kitchen. Get them here.

Other items in the range include these sets of two tea towels (£12 for a pair)…

Deer and mouse tea towels Abode by Magpie

…and the individual boxed mugs, which would make great gifts, £8.50 each…

Deer and woods mug Abode by Magpie

… plus a gorgeous boxed espresso set (a perfect wedding gift, £22.50)…

Abode by Magpie espresso set

…and set of four side plates, £20, which you could mix with white tableware:

Set of four side plates Abode by Magpie

PS: keep an eye out too for the fab placemats (£20 for four) and coasters (£10 for four) which are coming soon.

From catwalk to couch…

19 Feb

Leica S

It’s my favourite time of year – when all the shops start stocking up with their new Spring/Summer ranges.

And this year, more than ever before, the high street has taken its cue from the catwalk when it comes to deciding what looks the best-dressed homes are going to wear.

For 2014, the biggest trends are… Punchy Pastels (think brighter, candy colours rather than paler hues); Monochrome (with a pop of yellow, red or neon to give a bit more oomph – see Marks and Spencer’s new range, above); Metallics (including bronze, which is huge this year – see House of Fraser’s new range, below); Modern Romance (dusky pinks and lace); Global fusion (a melting pot of tribal patterns and ethnic-inspired nick-nacks); and Playful Prints such as cats, parrots and even goldfish.

PRECIOUS METALS LIFESTYLE SHOT bedstead, side table and all accessories Biba at House of Fraser 1

To find out more, read my guest post on the subject at the fabulous Wear and Where blog here – or buy the March issue of Glamour magazine (UK edition) which is on sale right now until the end of the month. Here’s a sneak peek:

photo (19)

Cabin fever

29 Jan

LIFESTYLE SHOT Cosy Contemporary NB PIX - ALSO AVAILABLE AS A 43MB TIFF

It’s cold, wet and frankly disgusting weather outside at the moment, so when it comes to decorating your living room, you need a cosy, comfy warm-feeling space you can curl up in and hibernate (but that will still look fresh and stylish in the summertime too).

This was the brief I stuck to when I created the above living room scheme which appeared in Notebook magazine (the very excellent supplement that comes with the Sunday Mirror) last  weekend.

It’s themed around the stunning Nasturtium fabric from designer Julia at Winter’s Moon (visit her website here)…

Made in Britain-Cameo-05_RT cushion close up

Purple, blue and bright orange might seem odd colours to throw together, but they work brilliantly well, adding zing and life to neutral walls and furniture. Using the lovely cushions and lampshade from Julia’s range as a starting point, I used other accessories to pick up the colour theme, including purple curtains, accent cushions and a radio; and orange flowers, accent cushions and a throw to transform the armchair:

Cosy Contemporary Made in Britain ARMCHAIRI also can’t resist a feature wall, so I faked a log cabin look with wood panel effect wallpaper. And as this look is all about bringing the outside in, I added some nods to nature with a fun foxy cushion, a basket of real logs, a stag’s head wall hanging, and a ‘nest’ print from one of my favourite design teams, Bold & Noble:

Cosy Contemporary Made in Britain CUSHIONS

Cosy Contemporary Made in Britain SIDEBOARD SCENE

I’m really pleased with the way it all turned out, and what’s more, everything used in the shoot, from the furniture, wallpaper and curtains to the log basket, rug and teapot on the table was made in the UK.

GET THE LOOK!

Want to recreate this look? Here’s where to buy everything you see in the room (plus, if you scroll down, I’ve got some suggestions for cheaper versions of some products for those of you on a tight budget!):

Cocktail 4-seater sofa, £1598, Cocktail accent chair, £898, and Cavendish furniture, from £149, all DFS (dfs.co.uk). Polycotton rib pencil pleat Curtains in cassis, from £50, Roberts Revival radio in ‘cassis’, £159.95 and Scion Mr Fox cushion £40, all John Lewis (johnlewis.co.uk). Windowpane check pure new wool throw in tangy orange, £40, woolblanketonline.comLarge square Nasturtium floral cushion, £56, Rectangular Nasturtium cushion, £48 and Bell bottom table lamp in orange with Nasturtium shade, £134, all Winter’s Moon (wintersmoon.co.uk). Large vase, Sophie Conran for Portmeirion, £41.60, Portmeirion (portmeirion.co.uk). Purple and orange ‘Soho’ cushions, £26 each, Heal’s (heals.co.uk). Handknitted teal throw, £160 and Oval basket shopper, £52 both Make The Most Of (makethemostof.co.uk). Sisal rug, £385.70 Crucial Trading (crucialtrading.co.uk). Heather teapot, £58 and mugs, £10.50 each, Denby (denby.co.uk). Circular slate cheeseboard (used as tray), £16, Grey and Echo (folksy.com/shops/greyandecho). Round slate coasters, £22 for four, Just Slate (justslate.co.uk). ‘Nest’ print, £43, Bold & Noble (boldandnoble.co.uk). Cardboard stag’s head, £15, Oh Bother Design (etsy.com/uk/shop/OhBotherDesign). Artichoke candle holders (used as bookends), £24 each and Cream serving dish with yellow rim, £18, all Velvet Dash (velvet-dash.com). Timber wallpaper in ‘limed’, £69.90 per wide roll, Andrew Martin (andrewmartin.co.uk)

BUDGET ALTERNATIVES:

cosy cabin get the look for cheaper

[Above, left to right, top to bottom] Tuscany sideboard £149 Very.co.uk. Spectrum DABFM Digital Radio £29.95 John Lewis (johnlewis.co.uk). Fox cushion £28, Howkapow.comThe Hamptons chunky knit throw  £18.39 Dunelm Mill (dunelm-mill.com). Chenille cushion £8 BHS (bhs.co.uk). Jute natural rug from £35 Next (next.co.uk). Retro ceramic lamp £14 Wilko (wilko.com). Oslo nest of two tables £49 Isme.comPurple teapot £6.48 kitchenhomeware.co.uk. You’ll also find great wood panel wallpaper for around £20 a roll at B&Q (diy.com) and Wallpaperdirect.co.uk.

Guess Who’s doing the drying up?

27 Jan

Guess Who tea towel £7.95 prezzybox.com

If there’s something I love as much as cushions, it’s teatowels (I know, I don’t get out much!). So, when I saw this little beauty, printed with all the faces from fab retro board game Guess Who? for £7.95 at Prezzybox.com, I just couldn’t resist adding it to my collection.

Why? Maybe it’s because it was the only game I ever beat my little brother at (okay, so I admit I had to cheat…); or maybe it’s because the eight-year-old me used to want a natty green beret like ‘Maria’. Either way, it’s going to look fab in my kitchen.

Perhaps I should buy my brother one too, to rub his face in it – sorry – dishes with it?

Steal Sherlock’s style

14 Jan

Sherlock Benedict Cumberbatch Martin Freeman

I’m so gutted BBC’s Sherlock (starring the utterly brilliant Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, above) has finished, I’ve decided to deck out my living room in tweed, wear my coat collar permanently turned up; and start drinking tea from dainty china cups in homage.

Not really. But I have compiled a selection of goodies you could buy to get a little of Sherlock’s style. Besides, tweed is very ‘now’, you know…

Below: Tea is Wisdom tea towel, £9 Hunkydoryhome.co.uk

Tea Is Liquid Wisdom Tea Towel £9 Hunkydoryhome.co.uk

Below (clockwise from top right): Hound of the Baskervilles mug, £8.95 Bloomsburystore.com; Earrings £19.50 The Literary Gift Company (get 10% off at www.theliterarygiftcompany.com until midnight on 31 Jan by using code JANUARY10 at the checkout); Hedgerow check throw £15 Sainsbury’s; Union Jack cushion, £13 Dunelm Mill; Cashmink navy blue scarf £20 John Lewis; Sherlock deerstalker hat, £39 www.christys-hats.com.

Copy Sherlock style

Initial thoughts

10 Jan

Marks and Spencer F cushion It’s been a while since I saw something and bought it immediately, but the moment I spotted these alphabet letter cushions from Marks & Spencer (www.marksandspencer.com), I loaded up my online shopping basket quicker than you could say (or should that be ‘spell’) OMG. They are, quite simply, AMAZING. Not only do they look stylish and fun, but they’re just £10 each. Yep, you read that right, just a tenner each. Which means you can treat yourself to one with your initial on without feeling guilty at all…

Marks and Spencer J cushion…or go crazy and spell out a whole world on your sofa without breaking the bank (well, not spending an absolute fortune, anyhow).

Their simple design means they’d suit almost any kind of decor, and they’d make an absolutely perfect present, particularly for a wedding (you could buy two, one with the bride’s initial and one with the groom’s).

Race you to the checkout!

Marks and Spencer initial letter cushions

Sounds fun

8 Jan

John Lewis spectrum radio purple

Just over a year ago, I featured the Spectrum DAB digital radio from John Lewis on this blog – it was dinky-sized, had a lovely rubbery exterior, and came in several eye-popping colours. But after it sold out that Christmas, they stopped selling it.

Well, now I’m pleased to report it’s back – and in a fabulous array of on-trend shades including orange (trust me, it’s going to be HUGE this year); a beautiful cobalt blue; and one of my favourite hues, bright purple. Chic yet fun and modern, it looks great out on display, and at just £29.95 it’s about £120 cheaper than a Roberts radio, the only other really stylish option available.

What’s more, it’s the same cute size as before (11cm x 15.5cm x 4.7cm); and runs on both mains and batteries, making it perfect for almost any room in the house. It’d make a great present for anyone who’s tricky to buy for; or just a cheeky little treat to cheer yourself up this gloomy January.

John lewis spectrum radio pink

Cut price chic

2 Jan

Bird shower curtain hooks £9.50 Oliver Bonas SALEHappy New Year!

If your pockets aren’t completely empty, now is a great time to pick up a final few sales bargains before all the new season stock hits the high street. While much of what’s left is, quite frankly, a load of tat, there are still some lovely things available at very reasonable prices. Here are my top three (well five) picks – better be quick!

TOP: I’m aware these are ridiculously frivolous, but how cute are these little perching bird shower curtain hooks? They’d add a certain je ne sais quoi to any bathroom. Now £9.50 (was £14) for a set of 12 from Oliver Bonas (www.oliverbonas.com)

Auckland Li chrome lamp £24.50 Habitat SALE

ABOVE: Habitat (www.habitat.co.uk) are one of the few stores to still have LOADS of great bargains still available, so I was stuck for what to choose. My must-buys are this yellow Oken table £28 (was £35); this uber stylish Aukland Li lamp £24.50 (was £35); and this brilliant Kilo side table £12.50 (was £25), available in jade, pink, meadow green, teal or light blue. Use it beside your bed, next to your sofa, as a telephone table or even outdoors. At this price, it’d be rude not to buy one!

flower garden embroidered cushion £9.95 Dotcomgiftshop SALEABOVE: Embroidered cushion £9.95 (was £39.95) www.Dotcomgiftshop.com. Beautifully-finished, it looks like it’s worth a fortune. Buy two and pop them side-by-side on a sofa or bed for instant folk chic. There’s a square one available for the same price, too. Lovely!

A little bit of Glamour

7 Dec

Glamour magazine UK January issue

Do you have a small room or flat you want to spruce up? Got a little space but big ideas?

Then buy a copy of this month’s Glamour magazine (January issue – Rihanna on the cover). It’s got a really useful three-page feature full of tips about how to make the most of your home, no matter how tiny.

Of course, I’m a bit biased, as I wrote it (!), but still… it’s very handy, it’s just £2, and it’s on sale now!

Dishes of the day

2 Dec

Flamingogifts rabbit jewellery dish

What’s this? A classy-looking, useful gift that almost any woman is guaranteed to like, but that costs under a tenner?!

Yep, I couldn’t believe it either when I stumbled across these really lovely dinky jewellery dishes from http://www.flamingogifts.co.uk. At around 10cm across, they’re the perfect size for stashing rings, earrings, pendants, trinkets or even a watch, either at bedtime or when you’re doing the washing up.

Flamingogifts squirrel jewellery dish

And with a rabbit, squirrel, deer and owl (sitting on a lotus flower by the looks of it) to choose from, there’s a cute animal or bird design to suit everyone. You can even get a dish with a golden bird/robin on top, for glamorous girls who like a bit of added glitz.

Flamingogifts gold robin jewellery dish

I’m planning to get them for several friends this Christmas, and I’ve put the sparky little rabbit on my wishlist. Want one of your own? If you, ahem, hop to it, there’s 20% off everything at Flamingo Gifts until midnight today, meaning the owl and deer are a bargainous £5.59 (instead of £6.99) each;  the rabbit and gold robin are £7.99 (instead of £9.99); and the squirrel is £6.39 instead of £7.99.

Happy shopping!

Do you remember the first time?

29 Nov

Main mood wall cropped

Buying your very own home for the first time is nerve-wracking but brilliant. Once you’ve got the keys, you can do whatever you like – knock down walls, put psychedelic wallpaper everywhere or paint the whole place pink if the whim takes you – without worrying about losing your deposit because you’ve put a picture up, or didn’t stick to a magnolia colour scheme.

The only problem is, with such a huge blank canvas to put your stamp on, where on earth do you start? Particularly if, like most first timers, you’ve sunk every penny  you own on the deposit.

That was the conundrum given to me and two other interiors bloggers (Caroline from Patchwork Harmony and Carol from Dear Designer) by uber friendly online bank First Direct.  They challenged us to create a 3D moodboard wall to inspire people buying their first ever house or flat. I had a whale of a time sourcing, buying and borrowing props in a rainbow of bright colours; and then spent a fun afternoon creating the wall in an East London warehouse, with the help of the super lovely First Direct team. You can see the results above and below…

Jenny Wood Gallery (2)

The idea behind my mood wall was show that decorating your first home should be fun – and shouldn’t cost a fortune. So, everything I used is available on the high street or online, and has an affordable price tag (it’s all listed below – be warned, it’s a looooong list!). I also wanted to show that you don’t have to play it safe. Even if you go for a background of plain or neutral walls, you can still inject some personality into your scheme with pops of bright colour or by experimenting with an eyecatching feature wallpaper.

Styling the shoot for First Direct

Want to see more? You can see the other bloggers’ efforts on the First Direct Facebook page, and view a video full of tips (including an interview with me – eek) here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuLYON3kasA. And if you’re thinking of investing in bricks and mortar for the first time, you’ll find loads of useful advice from First Direct here.

Good luck!

Where to buy everything…
Kaleidoscope wallpaper by Harlequin, £30 per roll, Wallpaper Direct (wallpaperdirect.com)
Clock, £10, TK Maxx (tkmaxx.com)
Owl cushion, £14.99 Dunelm Mill (dunelm-mill.com)
Purple, green, orange and yellow cushions, £6 each, Matalan (matalan.co.uk)
Grey pouffe, £47, Very (very.co.uk)
Micro loop bath mats (on floor), £8 each, Matalan (matalan.co.uk)
Large industrial wirework shelf, £49.95 Live Laugh Love (livelaughlove.co.uk)
[ON SHELF]
Picture frame, £1, Poundland
Hello Sunshine postcard, 60p, Paperchase (paperchase.co.uk)
Origami crane light, £8 Cubic (cubicuk.com)
Owl candle, £3, Matalan (matalan.co.uk)
Teal canister £2, Tiger Stores (tigerstores.co.uk)
Pencil sharpener desk tidy, £15, Suck UK (suck.uk.com)
Sharpie markers from a selection, Amazon.co.uk
Solar Queen, £16.99 Play.com
Melamine bowls find similar at Nettle Green (nettlegreen.co.uk)
Mug from a selection, Achica (achica.com)
Chinese man pot junk shop find
Russian doll measuring cups, £6.24, Tesco Direct (tesco.com/direct)
Gibraltar highball glasses £2.50 each, HOUSE by John Lewis (johnlewis.co.uk)
Plastic boxes, from a selection at Paperchase (paperchase.co.uk)
Ceramic owl decoration, find similar, £5, from Red Berry Red at Notonthehighstreet.com
Tea towels, £3 for three, Wilkinson (wilko.com)
Star cookie cutters, £4 for pack of five, Sainsbury’s (sainsburys.co.uk)
Set of measuring spoons, £2, Tiger Stores (tigerstores.co.uk)
[ON WALLS]
H.O.M.E perspex letters, £6 each, Oh Bother Design at Etsy (etsy.com/uk/shop/OhBotherDesign)
Large picture frame junk shop find, sprayed in Plastikote yellow gloss spray paint £6.99Amazon.co.uk
Bunting, £1 for 10m, Tiger Stores (tigerstores.co.uk)
Lanterns, £3 each, Tiger Stores (tigerstores.co.uk)
[ON WHITE BOX]
Trimphone telephone, £42, I Love Retro (iloveretro.co.uk)
Orla Kiely ‘Stem’ salad bowl, £25, Unique & Unity (uniqueandunity.co.uk)
Elephant watering can, £8.50 Ebay.co.uk
Silicone trivets, £2 each, Matalan (matalan.co.uk)
Soda siphon junk shop find
Queen Duck, £7.99, Just Ducks (justducks.co.uk)
Street sign, made to order, Oh Bother Design at Etsy (etsy.com/uk/shop/OhBotherDesign)
[ON STOOL]
Bekvam step stool, £11, Ikea (ikea.co.uk), sprayed in Plastikote yellow gloss spray paint £6.99Amazon.co.uk
Morphy Richards toaster, £34.99, Dunelm Mill (dunelm-mill.com)
Happy Girl yellow Kokeshi doll, £20, The Japanese Shop (thejapaneseshop.co.uk)
Giant pegs, £3 each, Tiger Stores (tigerstores.co.uk)
Metal hut tealight holder, £2.50, Matalan (matalan.co.uk)
Plant and pot, from a selection at Homebase (homebase.co.uk)
Elephant creamer jug, £3.25, Rigby & Mac (rigbyandmac.com)
[ON FLOOR]
Books, from a selection at Amazon.co.uk
Sabichi zigzag throw, £12, Very (very.co.uk)
Tenshi Tetsubin cast iron teapot, £30, Exotic Teapot (exoticteapot.co.uk)
Musca table lamp, £19.98, B&Q (diy.com)

My headshot cropped

The only time it’s good to be shelf-ish!

20 Nov

Kitchen rack 1

If, like me, you have a lot of lovely tins, quirky mugs, fun gadgets and kitsch knick knacks in your kitchen, it can be a shame to hide them away.

However, kitchen storage can be tricky, especially if you’re on a budget. You can fit one of your units with glass doors, but this often looks a bit twee; or you can pop things on shelves, which works fine, but doesn’t look particularly stylish.

This is why there has been a blank wall in my kitchen for over a year now…

blank kitchen wall before storage

Pictures didn’t look right (and got all steamed up); I already had a clock on another wall; and I didn’t want a full-on unit as it would have made the place feel too cluttered. I needed some kind of shelving unit that was both practical and that looked cool; where I could display my fun bits’n’bobs and also reach things when I needed them.

I found some great options online, but they all cost hundreds of pounds. Then, while doing a photoshoot recently, I came across interiors website http://www.livelaughlove.co.uk. They sell all kinds of unusual vintage and shabby-chic homes accessories – including doormats, picture frames, tins, jugs, hooks and metal signs – as well as some great, affordable storage options.

It was here I found the answer: the designer-look ‘Large Industrial Wirework Shelf’. It’s big enough to hold a decent amount of stuff; yet the see-thru nature of the wirework means it doesn’t take up too much space visually. It fixes to the wall with just two long screws (simple for even a DIY dunce like myself) and at a reasonable £49.95 it’s way cheaper than anything else similar I’ve seen.

The very kind people at Live Laugh Love gave me a shelf to keep after my shoot and now it has pride of place in my kitchen:

Kitchen rack 3

You wouldn’t just have to use a shelf like this in the kitchen though. It’d work well in a bathroom (see below); and if you wanted to make it blend into the wall even further, you could easily paint it with white radiator paint; or use a coloured spraypaint to make it stand out (try PlastiKote Twist’n’Spray, from DIY shops and Amazon.co.uk which sprays onto almost any surface).

BATHROOM Wirework shelf £49.95 Livelaughlove.co.uk

So, a huge thank you to the folks at http://www.livelaughlove.co.uk – I’m definitely adding the site to my list of great Christmas shopping destinations. And if you’re having a browse, here’s my pick of the other fab stuff they sell…

Live laugh love pigeon hole

Above: Rustic Wooden Six-Section Pigeon Holes, £29.95 (a great alternative to the wire shelves)

Live laugh love Merry Christmas grossgrain ribbon

Above: Fabric Ribbon, £2.95 for 3m; Antique Glass Filigree TeaLight Holders, £2.95 each

live laugh love knot doorstop

Above: Rope Knot Doorstop, £14.95 (a BARGAIN for something like this!); Vintage Glass Cake Stand, £9.95

Live laugh love general store storage

Above: General Store Jute Storage Bags, £3.95 – £8.95 depending on size; Days of the Week Decorated Pegs, £3.95

[Disclosure: I was given the wirework shelf  from http://www.livelaughlove.co.uk that appears in this review]

The future’s orange

1 Nov

Lifestyle shot from John Lewis

Pic courtesty of John Lewis (www.johnlewis.co.uk)

I recently wrote a trends piece for Closer magazine about Autumn’s hottest shades, as predicted by world colour experts, The Pantone Color Institute. There are some lovely ones – a deep Greek sea blue; a calming sage green; a spicy hot red… but my surprise favourite has to be ‘Koi’, a cheery bright orange.

Pantone colour predictions Autumn Winter 2013

It’s not a colour you’d automatically think of when buying things for your home, but while it can look too kitsch if splashed over an entire room; a few pops of orange in a plainer white or grey colour scheme can look really cool indeed.

To prove the point, I’ve found a whole host of lovely orange accessories that will add instant wow factor to any room, and that won’t break the bank price-wise. Which one is your favourite?!

ORANGE Fox sculpture £18 Littlewoods

Fox sculpture, £15, Littlewoods (www.Littlewoods.com); Fan lampshade, £36, http://www.Hunkydoryhome.co.uk; Linnell table lamp, £69 Marks & Spencer (www.marksandspencer.com)

ORANGE Cushion £18 Next

Shaggy cushion, £18, Next (www.next.co.uk); Essentials orange pyramid kettle, £25, BHS (www.bhs.co.uk); Bonjour! print £35, http://www.howkapow.com
orange selection one

Musca table lamp in ‘squirrel’, £19.98 B&Q (www.diy.com); Trimphone, £32, http://www.zincandco.com; Orla Kiely pots and jars, £20 – £23 each, http://www.Onebrowncow.co.uk; Jasper dining chair, £39, John Lewis (www.johnlewis.co.uk)

orange selection two

Digital radio, £49.95, John Lewis (www.johnlewis.co.uk); Mod tealight holder, £10.50, Habitat (www.habitat.co.uk); Linea Egyptian cotton towels, from £8, House of Fraser (http://www.houseoffraser.co.uk/Linea+Egyptian+cotton+towel+in+orange/EGYPTORANG,default,pd.html)

Wool you still love me tomorrrow?

18 Oct

Bronte star cushion grey

For my recent styling challenge (see Wednesday’s post) I got to borrow lots of lovely home products to use as finishing touches.

The pieces that got by far and away the most ‘Ooohs’ and ‘Aaaahs’? The absolutely beautiful cushions and throws kindly lent to me by British company Bronte  by Moon, a Yorkshire wool mill that’s been going since 1837 (www.brontebydesign.co.uk).

Made from Pure New Wool, Mohair and Merino Lambswool, everything they make is soooooo soft and snuggly, it’s perfect for cold winter nights. There’s a HUGE range of styles and patterns available – not just a plethora of checks and tartans, but also stars, spots and stripes. Many of the throws are reversible, too.

Bronte mohair throws

Bronte check purple cushion

While they’re definitely not cheap (between £69.95 and £150 for a throw; and around £49.95 for a cushion); from the little button and tassel detailing on the cushions to the fancy ribbon labels on the throws, they look and feel a million dollars. It was with great sadness that I had to package them up and send them back after the shoot!

Bronte spot throws

Still, at least I know what to ask Father Christmas to bring me. Who knows, he might even fancy one of the Nordic snowflake designs for his own pad…!

PS: Like the look but on a budget? Bronte by Moon also make supersoft merino lambswool scarves, £25 each, in a rainbow of colours and patterns, like the one below. You could even sew one into a long cushion yourself…!

Bronte scarves

%d bloggers like this: